Riddle: What birds inevitably follow tornados?
Walking out to the mailbox recently, I saw a burly fellow swagger confidently right at me. Not towards--at. He carried a self-important clipboard, wore jeans and a T-shirt that would have enabled his mother to find him on the far side of the Sahara in the middle of the night: ASK ME ABOUT YOUR ROOF!
"Guess you know what I do!" he bellowed.
I looked blank. (I'm getting good at that, better with every passing birthday, whichever one it may be.)
"Everybody in your neighborhood has to have a new ROOF!" he gloated, sweeping his arm possessively down the block.
"Ummm," I responded and kept going.
"You got a good roofing contractor?" he called to my back.
I nodded, in a manner of not speaking.
"YOU BETTER BE CAREFUL!" he yelled at the closing door.
Yesterday I went out into the back yard with the dogs, and while there, scattered some bird seed. I had spotted the shy cardinal couple on the patio earlier, and wanted to put the welcome mat out.
Amid the general cheeping and chirping around the neighborhood, I heard a different sound I couldn't place.
THUNK-thunk. THUNK-thunk. Tuh-THUNK-thunk. Woodpeckers? Nah. Then what?
Ah! Roofers. Not an unpleasant sound, actually. Rhythmic,and rather muted.
The tornado three weeks ago had swerved dangerously close to us for 10 minutes. There had been a great wind and battering hail (about the size of Ping-Pong balls) for perhaps five minutes. The roofing salesmen had swarmed for some ten days. Now the workers scamper up and down the high-pitched roofs like squirrels. And soon the hail-pocked roofs will be replaced by new ones, each costing about five times as much as a tornado shelter.
The Cardinals, however, seem to be using the same nest as last year, right up there in the big cottonwood.